Only 12 of the more than 200 Nobel prizes in medicine have been awarded to women. Now, one female student at Duke University wants to change that. And she has some advice for other undergrads looking to become a rising star in research.
Jill Jones feels at home in the lab. She’s loved science since she did a project about dogs in second grade.
“Printed out Wikipedia pages on every single breed of dog and made a binder for myself and brought it to my teacher,” said Jill Jones, a former neuroscience and linguistics major at Duke University.
A recent graduate of Duke, the neuroscience major worked with human cells in the pediatric brain tumor lab.
“They came from a patient who had medulloblastoma and the cells were removed from the tumor,” said Jones.
Jill, who played in her high school marching band, dedicated her studies to pediatric cancer after losing a bandmate to the disease.
“Most brain cancers and almost all kinds of cancer are more common in men than in women,” said Jones.
Her research on sex differences could lead to targeted therapies.
“It actually went into a grant that’s being reviewed by the NIH right now,” Jones told Ivanhoe.
So how does an undergrad land an opportunity that goes mainly to post-doc researchers? Jill says take the initiative!
“I spent a lot of time combing through websites and looking at the research,” said Jones.
Once you find the professor you want to work with, show you’re interested!
“I had read a couple of his papers and I emailed him some questions which I think is really helpful,” said Jones.
One of her mentors, Dr. Nina Sherwood, says Jill stood out because she paid attention!
“She would be one of the attentive faces in the audience,” said Sherwood, an associate professor of the practice of biology at Duke University.
Jill also leads an organization that honors holocaust victims.
“There’s a 24-hour name reading ceremony for the victims of genocide,” said Jones.
She’s a rising star in research and human rights.
The name-reading ceremony takes place every year in the spring. In 2011, Jill discovered through genetic research that her grandfather was a holocaust survivor. In college, she became president of the Coalition for Preserving Memory.
Not surprisingly, Jill will pursue a medical degree and PhD in neuroscience so she can continue her research in pediatric brain tumors.